How Does a Construction Loan Work? (Tue Tip)

house and calculator 

For today’s tip, we have a guest post by Emma Martin on the process of obtaining a construction loan.  Emma writes for CB Structures, a family owned Construction and Engineering Company that specializes in garage buildings and pole building design.

As the name implies, a construction loan is specifically meant for those who wish to undertake the construction of a building rather than buying one that is already complete.  There are many reasons why an individual or entity would seek this type of loan, and there are actually several choices when it comes to securing such funding, from different loans to different lenders, but you may not realize that your reasons for wanting to construct a building (and your ultimate goal for your completed structure) may make a difference in not only how much money you can borrow, but what type of loan you get.  So before you go ahead and purchase a parcel of land, there are a few things you may want to consider.

  1. Your goal.  If you are a private individual, chances are you’re looking to build your dream home.  You may own land already or you may be seeking a space to erect your structure, but ultimately, you’re looking for a family home.  A company seeking a construction loan may be interested in owning office space or they may simply be in the business of building and selling property.  Whatever your goal, it will almost certainly have bearing on the type of loan you select, and it might also affect what a lender is willing to offer you.
  2. Credit score.  Your FICO score will definitely come into play any time you attempt to secure a loan, and planning for construction is no different.  A high credit rating will not only give you a better chance of getting approved for a loan, it will help you to set a budget.  Also taken into account are assets and outstanding debt, so you’ll want to try to pay off car loans and credit cards if you can (although you could also roll them into the new loan amount).
  3. Budget.  You need to start with a budget in mind.  You’d do the same for any large purchase, so do your homework before you get to the bank.  Find a piece of land you’d like to buy, get bids from contractors, and see if there are ways you can cut back while still getting what you want.  If you approach a lender with a solid plan for spending, you might have a better shot at getting the loan you desire.  Of equal importance is knowing what you can afford.  Just because you CAN get a loan for double what you think you’ll need doesn’t mean you SHOULD.  You should always opt for a 10-20% buffer for unexpected costs, but don’t take more than you can afford to pay back.
  4. Loan type.  Once you have formulated a plan, set a budget, and gotten approval, it’s time to consider loan options.  For private homeowners, the best bet is usually a 30-year fixed or 15-year fixed loan (the same type you would opt for in a home loan) because you can treat it like a mortgage rather than paying processing fees and closing costs twice (once for the construction loan and then again for the mortgage loan when construction is completed).  Those who are looking to build and sell immediately may do better with a short-term, low monthly payment loan such as an interest-only option.  This will allow them to allocate all of their resources to construction and recoup costs upon sale.
  5. Lending institution.  Rather than shopping around at local banks for a construction loan (which may not even be available), consider contacting a construction loan broker who will do the shopping for you.  They will have a good idea which lenders offer the type of loan you need and for a fee, they can probably get you the best deal in town.


Do you have experience getting a construction loan?  How difficult did you find the process to be?  What do you, as a construction professional, advise your clients?  Emma and I encourage you to share in the comments section below.


Photo ©

Happy Thanksgiving!

pumpkin pie

Construction Law in North Carolina is on break today to spend time with family and eat some turkey & pumpkin pie.  Hope you, too, are having a chance to spend time with loved ones.

See you next week!


Photo “There Will Be Pie” by sea turtle via Flickr/Creative Commons License.


NC Green Contractors & Professionals Directory (Tue Tip)

wind turbine

wind turbineUpdate 3/9/2017: The NC Solar Center is now the NC Clean Energy Technology Center.  When last visited, the Professional Directory was no longer active.

Considering a Renewable Energy project?  Professional who specializes in green construction?  Either way, check out the North Carolina Green Professional Directory, published (with disclaimers) by the NC Solar Center.  The directory is searchable by professional type, by green technology, and by location, and professionals who qualify can apply to be added to the directory.


Photo from NC Solar Center

Greening the Cities- free webinar

Interested in how to “Green” our Cities?  Attend a free web seminar to learn from top experts.  Entitled “Retrofitting Cities: How to “Green” the Cities We’ve Got“, the live webinar will be held this Monday, November 22nd at 1pm ET.  (Event free but registration required).

The webinar is hosted by the Sustainable Cities Collective, and it is presenting the discussion “to explore the ideas that could make retrofitting the low-hanging fruit of urban re-engineering,” including:

  • Transit networks and mobility hubs
  • Improving energy use in buildings
  • Bike infrastructure, bike-sharing, and more
  • Efficient electric grids
  • Small-scale solar power and other alternative energy sources
  • Funding: Where will the money come from? Can solutions like public-private partnerships help fill the gap?

(hat tip to Chris Cheatham, Green Building Law Update blogger and seminar speaker, who alerted me to the webinar)

The 123s of Current NC Lien Law: Issues for Owners

Last week, we talked about the ABCs of liens for contractors, subcontractors, and design professionals.  For every yin, there is a yang.  Today we’ll talk about the 123’s of how to handle a lien claim if you are the Owner of the property. 
   James Bond 007   An Owner can always “Bond off” a lien


If you are  the owner of the property, you may not have been aware that subcontractors were not being paid, if lien waivers were not being submitted or were fraudulently executed by the general contractor.  Being served with a Notice of Claim of Lien on Funds and/or a Claim of Lien on Real Property can literally stop work on a project.  Many construction deeds of trust and similar bank financing require owners to keep the property free from liens or other claims on title.

If you are the Owner faced with a Lien on your property, what can you do?

Rule #1:  Never pay “over” a lien.  Even if you owe the contractor $80,000, and the subcontractor’s lien is for $5,000, do not think you can set aside $5,000 for the subcontractor (to be worked out later) and pay the contractor $75,000.

Rule #2:  Consider your options carefully:

            Option 1:  Finish the project without any additional payment to the contractor.  Pay for a replacement contractor to finish, offset those payments, pay lien claimants from remaining funds.

             Option 2:  Issue a joint check payable to the lien claimant and the contractor.

             Option 3:  Bond off the lien upon funds (N.C.Gen. Stat. 44A-20)

             To bond off the lien, you issue either a bond (equal to 1 ¼ ) or a cash payment (equal to the full lien value) to the Clerk of Court, which is held pending resolution of the dispute.

Rule #3:  If the project is upside down, consider negotiating directly with a subcontractor for a reduced payment in exchange for a lien cancellation filed by the subcontractor.

Rule #4:  Whatever you do, do it after consultation with your construction law attorney.  Liens cannot be ignored, and properly handling them can make or break your project.

Experience working with a lien on your property?  How did you handle the situation?   Also, as always, if you have questions or comments about this or any other post, drop me a line. 

Note:  While I welcome comments from all, be aware that  I do not currently accept homeowner (residential) clients.


Photo “James bond – quantum of solace” by Julien Haler via Flickr/Creative Commons license.   


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